To re-write or not to re-write, that is the question College Life / Writing & Grammar

Hello everyone:

Here I am, almost at the semester. My students at one college turned in papers on Wednesday that were, for the most part, pretty awful. It has taken me 45 minutes to plow through 6 of them, there are so many mistakes.

Here’s my dilemma: do I post an announcement, inviting the students to re-write their papers, knowing that the ones who need to the most are the least likely to do it, or do I hold my breath and go ahead and grade these monstrosities, knowing that this assignment is worth 20% of their final grade?

I could list the students who don’t have to do the re-write on our class page or just invite everyone to do it. I could give them till Monday at 1 pm to place their newly re-written papers in my mailbox on campus. I could even list all the things that were wrong with the current batch of papers. In fact, here is the list for your enjoyment:

One student wrote a plot summary for his favorite movie, and then added in three words from our textbook ….to the entire paper (four pages long). He put a Works Cited page at the end of the document, but did not cite anything (except those three words, scattered about the paper, once each).  Those words were never explained or analyzed, just plopped in.

I can hear his argument now, having been lambasted by him on the last writing assignment: “Boy, you sure are dumb if you don’t know the meaning of those three words. I shouldn’t have to explain the concepts to you.” To me, that is tantamount to saying, “Here is my exam. I only put my name on it but I deserve an A+ because you should know what all these terms mean. I shouldn’t have to tell you.” Right on, buddy.

Several students wrote sentence fragments. At this college, three fragments in a single essay means an automatic F on the assignment. Doesn’t anyone proofread anything? Several students wrote sentences that left out verbs, contained commas every few words, misused semi-colons like they were on a fire sale, and offered neither an introduction or a conclusion to their essay. One individual loved the words “as” and “such,” sprinkling them liberally in every paragraph.  Several students wrote sentences that were about 60 words long and went in numerous directions (these are known as run-on sentences).

So, what do you think I should do? Should I offer the re-write or not? I value your opinion.


Dr. Sheri


Sheri Dean Parmelee has a Ph.D. in Communication Studies from Regent University. She writes books on practical tips for people who become unexpectedly unmarried and is working on her second novel in a series of contemporary romance/suspense novels. She teaches at three colleges, working with students from freshmen to graduate students. Her hobbies include running 8 miles a day and reading biographies and fiction.


  1. Kayla Carlyle Says: November 17, 2017 at 7:18 pm

    First off, I cannot believe that the first student spoke to you or wrote to you in that way. That is just very disrespectful. Second, I think you should offer the re-write. They should learn that crappy work is not acceptable. I think they should also get used to the idea that teachers, employers and the like can and will ask for things to be done over and over again. Make them realize that their lack of effort is the reason that they will have to do twice the work.

    • Yes, the student did indeed talk to me like that. Civility may be dead, in some cases. I agree totally that employers will not want to accept shoddy work. I would rather they learn this less from me than to get fired from a job they need!

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